‘I can do anything my heart desires’ - Mothers praise new organ donation law
PUBLISHED: 09:39 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:45 16 January 2020
A mother-of-two whose life was saved by a kidney transplant has praised organ donation as the best thing anyone can do.
Gemma Sturge, 35, a bed manager at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, is speaking out in the wake of a major law change for organ donation in England.
From this spring most people will be automatically on the organ donation register.
If people decide they do not want their organs used for transplants after their death they would have to opt out.
Under current law people have to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Mrs Sturge, from Reffley in King's Lynn, said: "Organ donation gives someone the chance of a longer life. Who knows how long I would be alive for if it hadn't had a transplant. Being on dialysis is not pleasant. You are very unwell between treatments and you are restricted. I feel like a normal healthy person now. I can do anything my heart desires. I've got a life. Organ donation is the best thing anyone can do. It is amazing."
The hospital worker was born with a reflux issue and was under Great Ormond Street Hospital in London when it was noted that one of her kidneys had not grown properly.
On January 25, 2012, she underwent a much-needed kidney transplant after the organ was donated from 12-year-old girl.
At the time her kidney was functioning at 6pc and was warned she would struggle to have children if she had dialysis.
Since the operation Mrs Sturge had two boys, now aged four and six, and has become fitter than ever.
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She believed the change would make organ donation less of a taboo subject.
Another parent who benefitted from a kidney transplant is beauty therapist and mother of two young children, Helen Glasspoole-Young, from Briston.
She had the transplant in 2009 after undergoing two years of dialysis for her deteriorating kidneys.
Mrs Glasspoole-Young, whose donor was a 68-year-old retiree, said: "The law change will make a huge difference. It gives more opportunities for transplants. Unfortunately some people die without having the conversation with loved ones about organ donation.
She described her transplant as life-changing.
Why is the organ donation system changing?
Thousands of people in need of a life-saving transplant will benefit from the change in organ donation law.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "The proposed new system of consent for organ and tissue donation is to help the 5,200 people in England waiting for a life-saving, or life-enhancing, transplant. With significantly more people willing to consider organ donation than are actually registered as donors, this vital step will presume consent unless people choose to opt out of being a donor. We estimate that by making this change, there will be 700 extra transplants every year. It's important everyone takes the time to discuss their choices on donation with their families."
As of December 2019, 40 people in Norfolk were on the active transplant waiting list.
People that will be exempt from the change are people under 18, people who lack mental capacity to understand the new arrangements and take the necessary action and people who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living in England voluntarily.
For more information visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk